17 September 2014

Canon A.M. Allchin: ‘A Taste of Liberty’

“What is being said here? First, that the once for all event of Christ, his life and teaching, his death and Resurrection, is only the first part of the work of God for man's healing and restoration. What was done once for all, in a certain time and a certain place, is now to become alive and real in all times and in all places. The Son of God, the Redeemer, gives order and structure to this world. The Spirit, the Life-Giver, produces life and variety, multiplicity and richness. And this second activity that is carried forward in the life and experience of each Christian, is something which can rightly be compared with that first great act of God in Christ Jesus.  Jesus promised his disciples that they would do the same or indeed greater works than he did.  Following on God's Incarnation, his taking our nature into himself, there comes at Pentecost man's inspiration, God's breathing his Spirit into the very life and being of man so that we should become sharers in his nature.

“As such, we need order consistency and faithfulness in our lives, of course, but that does not mean that they must be rigid, monotonous or uneventful. Quite the reverse is true. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life and fruitfulness; he gives more than we expect, and whenever we meet life, human or divine, we find it to be unexpected. This breathing of the Spirit of God into the life and being of man enables the new community, the new reality of the Church to come into being so that we can live to the full the new life in Christ and become sharers in his nature.

“This is a very high and demanding teaching, but it is also an immensely strengthening one.  It helps us to make sense of aspects of our faith which are often difficult for people of our generation who are vividly aware of the immense size and age of the universe and of the length and complexity of human history. How can all that, we ask, be centred and summed up in one life and death? Can the Church really always be turning back to those thirty years in Galilee and Jerusalem — that one afternoon on the hill of the Cross? Our faith tells us that to the unique and unrepeatable work of God in the Incarnation of his Son, there corresponds another work going on constantly, the work of the Spirit, who is also Lord, who is the giver, the creator of life and growth. And it is the Spirit who makes us share in the very life and vitality of God himself. There is another work being carried forward through all nations in all centuries which multiplies and diversifies the action of God and lifts man up into union with the divine.”

The Revd Father Donald Allchin

A Taste of Liberty 
pp. 11-12
Convent of the Incarnation
Fairacres Oxford
© The Sisters of the Love of God 1982